Reasons to Apply for Asylum

Political asylum is a status granted to a person from a country where his/her human rights were violated or this individual was persecuted, discriminated against, physically and psychologically abused, humiliated, harassed, tortured, etc. Political asylum is not only about politics in your country. This is a sort of protection if the individual’s life was in danger. There are a few reasons to apply for asylum: Race, Religion, Nationality, Political Opinion, Membership in a Particular Social Group. The asylum seekers will need to provide evidence to prove they received threats and their life was in danger. The evidence can be the following: medical and police certificates and records, X-rays, medical excerpts, psychological evaluations, affidavits of support, summons, court decisions, etc.

1. Race and Nationality.

There are people who have suffered because of their skin color, eye shape, race, nationality, country of origin, and citizenship. For example, Tatars, Uzbeks, and Tajiks are minorities in Russia; Russians are minorities in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine. Such minorities experience harassment, discrimination, and persecution. People with different skin color or eye shape cannot get protection from police and state authorities. Sometimes, we can see marriages where spouses are from different races. When the spouse is an ethnic minority, the whole family can be in danger. Those people cannot hide their physical appearance and suffer because they are different from the majority of the population of one particular country.  

As for hostility based on nationality, we can take, for example, a Russian person who is a citizen of Kazakhstan: this person moves from Kazakhstan to Russia, and local Russians consider this person as a stranger and alien because this immigrant has different citizenship and was born in a different country. Later on, this immigrant can become a citizen of Russia, but there will be a note about their place of birth in the passport. This person will always be considered an immigrant and experience problems because of their previous citizenship and place of birth. This is just one kind of example, while there are a lot of other cases when people can be persecuted based on their nationality.  

2. Religion.

Religion can be the reason to apply for asylum. In some countries, religious minorities face persecution, discrimination; the government bans their rituals, holidays, and does not allow them to wear traditional religious clothes. Some countries even do not allow people to practice their religion. An example of this is the case of Russia and Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Russian government prohibited this religion completely and their Kingdom Halls are forbidden, while they are around numerously in the USA. Another example is Muslims in Russia. Muslims can not practice Islam anywhere they want to. Muslims face harassment because Orthodox is the only main religion in Russia. 

The list of religious minorities can be pretty long, and it all depends on the country. In general, there are Protestants (Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Pentecostals, Mormons, Lutherans, Mennonites, etc.) There is a difference between a person who was born in a family of a religious minority and the person who moved to the USA, for example, and changed their religion. Those applicants will need to prove their past persecution based on their religion, or future persecution, in case their new religion is considered as a minority one in their home country. Asylum seekers usually have an affidavit from their church or place where they often meet with their brothers and sisters, or like-minded people, certificate of baptism, photos, etc.

3. Political Opinion.

People who disagree with the current government regime are considered members of the opposition. They stand and support human rights, minorities, freedoms, and democracy. Lots of journalists, political opponents, public figures, and even bloggers can face persecution and harassment from law authorities for their activities. Any person who does not support the current political regime in the country can be subjected to beatings and even imprisonment. Police and other government authorities detain such activists, search their homes, initiate criminal cases, and summon them to the prosecutor’s office. Of course, the members of opposition parties are subject to persecution but even if the person was not a member but helped to spread opposition leaflets, this person is already considered as an opposition activist. Those people who visit oppositional rallies, marches, meetings, demonstrations can be detained. A political opinion is something that an individual has in their mind and wants to share with other people, maybe to give information that is not easily available, and the government does not allow them to do so. This is the reason why there are so many political prisoners in Russia, Belarus, and other post-Soviet countries.

4. Social Group.

There are a few social groups, such as LGBT, women, modern women in Muslim countries, children, journalists, environmental experts and specialists, and people with disabilities. All of them and many other social groups face persecution in their countries. 

Russia, for instance, has established itself as a homophobic country. They even have a Gay Propaganda Law, which prohibits anything related to the LGBT community. Gay prides are not allowed; gays and lesbians face harassment, discrimination, and humiliation. The state does not protect them at all.

Women and children are subject to domestic violence in many countries. Legal authorities and police do not protect such victims and refer to their family traditions. Journalists and environmental specialists do not have freedom of press and speech. Opposition journalists are forced to report fake news, otherwise, they are not welcomed on TV. 

Also, the government regime of post-Soviet countries does not provide any help to people with disabilities. Some of them have to stay home forever basically because they do not have the funds to buy a wheelchair or get appropriate treatment. 

Minority social groups suffer and have to fight for their democracy, human rights, and freedom. The government is ready to get rid of such opposition activists instead of changing the regime. Those people fight for their rights until their own lives and family members are in danger. At some point, they have to flee their countries. 

When people decide to flee their country, sometimes they do not think in advance about having the correct documents, they are simply running to save their lives. Such immigrants are forced make one of the hardest decisions in their life and leave their families, parents, relatives, and friends perhaps forever. They may feel loneliness but they have hope for a better future and safety.

*For informational use only. 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

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